Smartphone gaming continues to improve with ever sharper displays and raw processing power to deliver console-quality graphics right in the palm of your hands. Nonetheless, you still stand to improve the gaming experience on any phone by adding the right accessories to the mix.
Know what you're after? Head to one of the sections below to find an awesome gift that matches your budget:
When in doubt, gift cards are the most practical present you can give to friends and family. Depending on what phone the person uses, you can help them buy their favorite games with a gift card from the App Store (iPhones) or Play Store (Android).
Classic Nintendo games like Super Mario and Donkey Kong aren't easy to play on the iPhone. That said, you can gift your loved one a Game Boy-like iPhone case that will give them the freedom to play classic 8-bit games anytime — no emulators required.
Compared to full-size gamepads (covered below), clip-on controllers are a lot easier to carry around for gamers who are always out and about, and much cheaper to boot. Best of all, these compact gadgets add physical shoulder button functionality to almost any device, and is sure to give your FPS-obsessed recipient that competitive edge while battling other players online.
As great as modern games like Call of Duty Mobile and Fortnite look and play on your smartphone's display, it still pales in comparison to playing on your TV or computer monitor in terms of enhancing gameplay overall. For this, using the good old HDMI cable is still the best choice, as using wireless methods like AirPlay or Smart View can cause lag and lead to a horrible gaming experience.
HDMI or AV adapters tend to be pricier compared to regular cables, but they offer numerous benefits. Adapters are much more compact and easier to carry around, and they let you use standard HDMI cables that are more widely available.
An external controller is the one must-have accessory every mobile gamer should have — it adds a truly console-quality experience to almost any game thanks to the tactile feedback it provides, in addition to better ergonomics and intuitive layout. Controllers come in all shapes and sizes, and make a great gift idea for a friend or relative obsessed with mobile games. Here's some of the best we've found on Amazon:
- PowerLead Wireless Controller (from $25.99) on Amazon
- DoinMaster Wireless Controller (from $29.99) on Amazon
- PowerLead PG-9118 Wireless Controller (from $34.99) on Amazon
- PXN P30 Wireless Controller (from $39.99) on Amazon
- IPEGA Wireless Gamepad (from $26.99) on Amazon
- BEBONCOOL Mobile Game Controller (from $49.99) on Amazon
- Razer JungleCat Dual-Sided Controller ($99.99) on Amazon
On the surface, a high-end device like the Note 10+ with its huge 4300 mAh battery sounds impressive, but this doesn't necessarily translate into gaming, especially power-hungry games like Call of Duty Mobile. This is where power banks come in handy, and would make an awesome gift for a loved one prone to excessively draining his or her phone's battery due to constant gaming.
In addition to video games, there's also plenty of toys that have evolved to allow for interaction using your handset. Smartphone-controlled RC cars and drones are perfect examples, but beyond those, there's also virtual reality headsets which enable players to design and explore their very own worlds, interactive laser guns that takes FPS shooting to a whole new level, and much more.
- WowWee Robotic Enhanced Vehicles (from $26.99) on Amazon
- LEGO DC App-controlled Batmobile (from $73.87) on Amazon
- DeXop Off-Road Remote Control Car (from $67.99) on Amazon
- SNAPTAIN S5C FPV Drone (from $59.99) on Amazon
- Holy Stone F181W FPV Drone (from $89.99) on Amazon
- Recoil Laser Tag Starter Set (from $46.73) on Amazon
- HeroMask VR Headset (from $49.00) on Amazon
- Make Your Own Virtual Reality Game with Headset (from $79.99) on Amazon
Wired headphones can trip up gamers and interfere with their grip which can ruin gameplay. This makes Bluetooth earphones a lot more ideal, as it allows them to concentrate more on the game at hand and stay alive in highly competitive games like World of Tanks, without disturbing other around them.
- Apple AirPods Pro (from $249.00) on Amazon
- Apple Airpods 2 (from $159.99) on Amazon
- Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones (from $199.99) on Amazon
- Beats Solo3 On-Ear Headphones (from $164.99) on Amazon
- Bose SoundSport Free Wireless Earphones (from $199.99) on Amazon
- Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Headphones (from $349.00) on Amazon
- Sennheiser HD 4.40 Wireless Headphones (from $79.95) on Amazon
- Sennheiser Momentum Wireless Earbuds (from $181.36) on Amazon
- Sony WH-XB700 Wireless Headphones (from $98.00) on Amazon
Obviously, smartphones are by far the most expensive items in this list, but also the most important — your loved one needs a phone with great specs to reliably play graphics-intensive mobile games. That said, the devices on this list are among the best you can get, and come withe the latest version of iOS or Android installed along with future updates to ensure future-proofing for years to come.